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November 1996, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 26 Nov 1996 16:41:54 EST
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I would immodestly recommend my article, "Restoring the Black Man's
Lethal Weapon: Race and Sexuality in Contemporary Cop Films" (Journal of
Popular Film & Television 20:3 Fall 1992) to Krin Gabbard, who is doing
research on the diminishment of Black masculinity.  I discuss the
various ways in which Black cops are emasculated in the Lethal Weapon
films, Shoot to Kill, and Die Hard--all films in which the Black hero
cannot fire his weapon until his masculinity is restored by the white
companion.  The gun/phallus connection is reinforced by comparisons of
gun sizes and shooting skills.  I also discuss the homosocial bond that
emerges in the films and how that bond displaces or moves to the margins
male-female relationships.  I think it is important to see black-white
buddy films in the context of the black-white pairing in American
literature (a la Huck Finn and Leslie Fielder's discussion of the myth).
I see the interracial buddy film as a wish-fulfillment for racial
harmony, a wish-fulfillment that denies historical conflict or at least
asserts that historical oppression can be undone by the actions of
right-thinking individuals.  In this context, the emasculation of the
Black hero is a response to an earlier more virulent stereotyping of the
Black man as physical and unthinking.
Chris Ames
English Department
Agnes Scott College
141 East College Ave
Decatur, GA  30030
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